While contemplating this question, I’ve come to the realization that I watch way too many movies.  I think a lot of people underestimate the amount of movies I actually watch.  I watch everything from Korean revenge films to documentaries, Norwegian vampire movies to small budget indies.  So it’s really hard to pick a favorite, since I can enjoy a wide variety of genres.  So I started just looking through movies released the 2010 calendar year just to give myself parameters to narrow the search.

And 2010 was a interesting year for the film industry.  Avatar dominated at the box office and showed the capability of 3D done right (so did Jackass 3D…if you don’t have a problem with wang in your face…which I do).  Sure, I cannot say that I wasn’t staring at the screen in awe in some points.  But everyone talked about the story and how original it was.  Oh, really?  Never read the story Pocohantas before?  (By the way, Pocohantas means “slut.”).  I honestly believe that 3D is just a fad.

There was, of course, the inevitable string of sequels, prequels, and remakes.  Some were good, like Toy Story 3, Harry Potter Eleventy Billion, and The Crazies.  Some were…not, like Nightmare on Elm Street or Clash of the Bad Post-Conversation 3D Titans.  Hollywood seems to continue to devour itself, repacking and reusing the same old ideas over and over again until they become cliche.  But luckily, 2010 was also a year I saw some truly original and amazing work.  Exit Through The Gift Shop will not be on this list because there will be a documentary-centered post coming soon, but it’s close to being my favorite.  And I have not, as of this post, seen The King’s Speech yet.

1.  Inception (2010)
Director: Christopher Nolan

South Park came dangerously close to ruining this entire movie for me.  The episode they did called Insheepsion was one of the funniest episodes of the past year and did a great job of poking holes in Inception‘s plot and using its amazing score against it.  The running joke was that just because a story is complicated doesn’t mean it good.  I definitely agree to a certain extent.  And this is just plain f–king funny:

But you have to give credit where credit is due.  And during a time when remakes and re-imagineering is commonplace, Inception was a true original.  I had never seen a movie like that.  It was easily one of the most visually arresting films in a long time.  It’s easy to get caught up with all the parodies and skits using Inception as the inspiration.  But I remember when I sat in the theater, wide-eyed and smiling.

2.  Black Swan (2010)
Director:  Darren Aronosky

I’m a sucker for descent-into-madness movies where you are forced to try to figure out what’s going on along side the protagonist.  It doesn’t hurt when you have Natalie Portman dry humping a bed.  And Vincent Cassell’s the man.  I wasn’t expecting to enjoy a movie about ballet, but I sure did.  Aronosky did a pretty seemless job of working in his special FX without being overly distracting.  I’m also a sucker for great production design.

3.  Buried (2010…I guess I can stop typing this year, since they all came out in 2010…I’m an idiot)
Director:  Rodrigo Cortes

This little gem comes to us from a Spanish director who obviously watched a lot of Hitchcock growing up, just like I did.  Cortes intricately crafted a engaging mystery about Ryan Reynolds waking up in a coffin in the middle of the desert.  That’s all you need to know.  The claustrophobia felt real without the movie feeling stale or boring.  With innovative lighting design and solid writing, I was hooked from the start (man-crush on Ryan Reynolds aside) and floored by the ending.  Highly recommended.

4.  The Social Network
Director:  David Fincher

First off, I don’t care if it’s all true to not.  I’ve read the facts, so I’m aware that certain dramatic liberties were taken.  But with those liberties taken, Fincher made a damn compelling movie.  Sure, it helps that I really like Jesse Eisenberg.  Zombieland was absolutely brilliant and he was fantastic in it.  He helps makes Zuckerberg likable, something he just really isn’t in real life.  He’s actually quite the douche.  But Aaron Sorkin’s script was just so good that it helps the pace keep up, even though it’s a movie essentially about people talking and working on computers.  Add in Trent Reznor & Atticus Finch’s award-winning score (which sounds surprisingly a lot like the score to Primer, which you should definitely watch), you have a damn fine film.

Here’s an unbelievably comprehensive behind the scenes featurette on the making of it. I highly recommend it if you enjoy the process of film-making.  Then again, I’m the guy who DVD extras are designed for.  (Yes, I watch movies with the commentary on after I’ve watched them a few times.  I’m that guy.  I love that sh-t.)

5.  The Fighter
Director:  David O. Russell

I wrestled with the last entry on this list for a while.  Do I pick a movie just to be different or artsy or self-righteous?  I put this movie on the list simply for Christian Bale’s performance.  That dude straight disappears into whatever role he takes on (watch The Machinist if you don’t believe me).  Watching the brief interview with the real Dicky Eklund that rolls during the end credits hammers home how perfectly Bale nailed everything, from Dicky’s speech patterns to his mannerisms to even his posture & gait.  I don’t particularly like Marky Mark as an actor all that much.  I just feel that he’s never been the strongest part of any of the films he’s been in (although in Boogie Nights, Three Kings, and Fear, he’s pretty damn good).   But I was pretty sure that the women who portrayed his sisters were really just girls from the streets of Lowell, not actresses.  They were that much better.

Honorable mentions (that you should still totally watch):
The Book of Eli, Shutter Island, The Crazies, A Prophet, Animal Kingdom, Toy Story 3, Winnebago Man, REC 2, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Town, Jackass 3D, Monsters, 127 Hours